In several key moves which may come as good news for administrators of enterprise social network collaboration platforms, Microsoft has chosen to add a free version of its Teams workplace communications tool, as well as boost cross-platform support for its popular Whiteboard app.
The company’s Teams platform, which integrates with the Office 365 suite and additional third party programs, has lacked any free tier for businesses to upgrade from since its launch in late 2016. This has left Teams open to strong competition from Slack, an originator in cloud-based team collaboration tools operating since 2013.
Microsoft Teams’ new free tier will offer support for up to 300 people and fully opens up most of its premium features, including group audio and video calling and unlimited searching of chat messages. However, each member will be limited to 2GB of personal storage, while a paid subscription is needed to allow full integration with Office 365 applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Free users can still access web versions of productivity programs through Office Online, though these iterations are not as powerful as their desktop counterparts.
Numerous third-party applications can be used with both paid and free versions of Microsoft Teams, and developers are adding integration at an increasing rate. Recently, Evernote announced it was partnering with Microsoft to add Teams support for its widely used notebook and organiser app. Other popular productivity tools including Trello, SharePoint News, Hootsuite, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Flipgrid are already fully integrated with Microsoft Teams.
The move to offer a free version of Teams puts pressure on Slack, which so far limits its free tier to only 10 app integrations and cuts back on the number of searchable messages, as well as offering no group video chat support. Recent improvements also means Office Online can compete with Google’s G Suite, making Microsoft an appealing choice for smaller firms which may lack a large budget for IT.
In addition to this, Microsoft has launched its long-awaited Whiteboard app on Windows 10 after a preview period of seven months. The tool, which will also be available for iOS and as a web version, allows users to make notes on a virtual whiteboard and collaborate across devices in real time. An Android version is planned for the future.
The app is free to download and, if signed in with an Office 365 account, can be used to collaborate with multiple people within an organisation. The Windows 10 version offers intuitive support for the Surface Pen, so users can simply create tables or draw process flows on a screen as they would with a real-world whiteboard. Though not yet finalised, Microsoft is also planning to integrate Whiteboard into Teams and bring the app to its Surface Hub device.
If you’re unsure whether Slack, Teams or a different collaboration software is the right solution for your business, why not get in touch with the friendly customer service team here at WM Reply ?